Leta Chen is an established Australian and dinner host from Melbourne who has found The Welcome Dinner Project has positively affected her life in more ways than one.

Opening Home and Opening Heart

In June 2015 a friend of mine forwarded an email prior to the Facilitator training as she felt that this is something I would be interested in. And she was right. Since then I have facilitated 7 dinners.

Around 18 months ago I facilitated a very special Welcome Dinner. It was the most moving dinner I have ever had. Somehow a bunch of complete strangers felt really connected straight away. We all just felt this deep sense of connection, something bigger than us. Everyone had tears of joy at the end, we felt the love that everyone brought with themselves. One of the guests suggested she could teach us all to cook Mexican food, as her dish was so popular at the dinner. It took a few group emails to organise the time and place, but finally we had around 18 of us who all met up again! It was another wonderful evening and the best Mexican food we’d EVER had! Since this at-home Mexican cooking class, we’ve all stayed in touch and managed to put together a baby shower for one of the girls who was pregnant, and a ‘Welcome to the world’ catch up when the baby was born. It has been such a wonderful way to prove that we can all take responsibility for staying connected and celebrating diversity. This is a large part of what The Welcome Dinner Project is all about; forming lasting connections and friendships and sharing stories and laughter over good food beyond the first welcome dinner. Taking the opportunity to really get to know new found friends and form deeper connections has been so very satisfying. I am certainly looking forward to our next get together!

At one of the following Dinners, one of the attendees, asylum seeker from Iran, asked me to be his mentor and since then we meet regularly to discuss his life and what’s happening in it. This benefits him immensely but also enriches my life as well, helps me to understand different cultures and ways of living. Through this and similar encounters, I became more conscious, connected, and aware on the world on a completely different level.

Now I can say with confidence that before the Welcome Dinner Project my life was one-dimensional. I didn’t have much cultural awareness and wasn’t involved as much in the community. WDP truly enriched my life, broadened up areas of interest and opened up my mind. I feel privileged for these new opened dimensions of life and encourage everyone else to learn more and to be more open. I really enjoy being a WDP Facilitator as this role helps you become more involved in the Project, it eases conversations, and you get more access to different people.

Leta Chen
established Australian
WDP host & facilitator
based in Melbourne, Victoria

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